- A North Carolina Hampton Inn & Suites violated Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 when it permitted harassment of White housekeeping employees because of their race, the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission alleged in a lawsuit announced Aug. 25.
- Hampton Inn & Suites ignored the complaints of White housekeeping staff that a Black housekeeper called used racially derogatory terms and interfered with White employees' job performance.
- The hotel "allowed the harassment to continue and escalate," causing one employee to quit, the EEOC charged. The agency seeks monetary relief, including compensatory and punitive damages for three employees, in addition to injunctive relief.
Title VII is designed to protect employees from racial discrimination and harassment at work.
Employers can violate the statute when they take direct, discriminatory action against workers because of their race or a number of other protected characteristics such as national origin, sex or religion. EEOC sued an employer in 2019, for example, alleging that it violated Title VII by refusing to hire female applicants because of their sex. Workers told EEOC investigators they heard managers say women complain too much and distract male workers. Managers were also described as saying women couldn't compete with men's sales rates.
Employers may run afoul of the law by being a silent bystander to harassment, too. "An employer violates federal law when it fails to take action to remedy race-based harassment in the workplace," EEOC Regional Attorney Melinda Dugas said in the press release.
Dugas also noted that Title VII is not selective in its protections. "Title VII protects employees of all races and guarantees them the right to work in an environment that is free from racial harassment and hostility," Dugas said in the press release. "Employers who are aware of such conduct have a legal and moral obligation to take action to eliminate it."